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Monday, November 21, 2005

BOOK REVIEW - FOR A COLD NIGHT IN FRONT OF THE FIREPLACE
by Julie Robberson

The Complete Book of Fire: Building Campfires for Warmth, Light, Cooking, and Survival, by Buck Tilton, Menasha Ridge Press, 2005, 104 pp., $12.95.

http://www.menasharidge.com/fire.htm

"What an odd little subject this little book has." That was what I said to myself when I saw this book in the latest shipment from our friends at Menasha Ridge Press in Birmingham. In fact, this little book is a little gem.

Author Buck Tilton is not a pyromaniac; he is a regular contributor to Backpacker magazine. His writing makes me smell campfires and long for the woods.

This book is delightful reading for a winter evening at home, but it is also very practical guide for outdoor skills, including every aspect of how to build a fire for each purpose. It covers everything from how to build a signal fire when you need to be rescued from the wilderness, to a few recipes to cook on your campfire; from controlling wildfire to treating burned human skin. Of equal importance, the book devotes a chapter to when and why you should not build a fire (to avoid damaging your surroundings), how to build a minimum-impact fire, and how to put the dang thing out so you don't burn down the woods.

My favorite thing about the book, however, is thinking about all those smart alecks with whom I've built and sat around campfires, who think they know everything in the world about building a campfire. After reading this book, you'll definitely know more than they do. That's not to say you'll succeed in shutting them up, but you may be able to keep them from setting you or the woods on fire. And you can feel secure in your certainty that you know more than they do.